What you may not know about me is that I run a private practice. I have done so for over 12 years. There have been heaps of ups and downs and there are times when I still feel I have much to learn from both the clinical side as well as the business side. In fact, I think that the day that I have nothing more to learn will be the day I will stop practicing.
However, until then, how do we manage the ups and downs? How do we keep ourselves going (and our family life)?
My husband and I were discussing the trials and tribulations of our workplaces and he commented that he wanted to go to work and feel ‘whelmed’ – not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, just whelmed. “Is that a real word?”, I replied. But it got me thinking – how nice would that be. The panic and frenzy of being overwhelmed is exhausting. I don’t know about you but I have difficulty saying no. I have just finished term1 completely spent. I knew that it was going to be hectic. My private practice was much busier than normal (good for business). I recruited new staff and managed the instability that changes in staff bring. I had booked in speaking engagements with a colleague (something that I love). I accepted some community service speaking engagements. Throw in a family and a close friend’s illness and I have spent the last 10 weeks being overwhelmed. Most of this is brings enjoyment and is easy for me to do given the time. The time. I have the bad habit of saying yes automatically and then reflecting later. I don’t know if it is about me not knowing my limitations or just expanding my limitations each quarter. Maybe a dangerous thing.
Feeling overwhelmed gets our adrenalin going and gets us to push our limits. This isn’t a bad thing. It shows us what we can do. Whether you’re a new graduate or an experienced clinician putting yourself out of your comfort zone can initiate your A game. However, there is a level where it leaves us in a foetal position in the corner. I guess it is about knowing your limitations and putting yourself in that sweet spot.
I have also had times where I have been underwhelmed about my workplace and my caseload and seemed to have lost my direction. This too, is not a great place to be. Here you are not bringing your best and your passion for the work drains away. Hopefully it brings on a time of reflection about why it is that you do what you do. The answer to this question needs to be more that just a pay check.
So as a profession we can often be overwhelmed by caseload numbers, paperwork and reports, and equally be underwhelmed by the restrictions our workplace may put on us. And while we dream of the nirvana of a place called whelmed, maybe it is good that it doesn’t exist as we need the adrenalin or motivation to keep bringing our A game for our clients and families.
BTW – whelmed is a ‘real‘ word but it doesn’t really fit between overwhelmed and underwhelmed like you might think. But it did get me thinking.